After a two-year hiatus, a staple in Charleston dining is back in business.
Best of Crete reopened to the public at its Beech Avenue location on the city’s West Side earlier this month.
Owner Mike Birurakis closed the Best of Crete at Charleston Town Center in 2013. He has used the West Side location for catering for the past 11 years, though it hasn’t been open to the public.
He said Thursday that he always intended to reopen, but not until he was ready. He spent the past two years “recharging” and said he’s ready to get back to what he loves.
“I took a few courses, I traveled, I rested. I took care of Mike things for two years,” he said. “And I was sitting at home this winter and I said, ‘You know what? My batteries are charged. Let’s do it again.’”
He plans to stay open for the foreseeable future.
“I enjoy the people and I know the work, and if it works I’ll keep doing it,” he said.
There was no big announcement, no fanfare, just a simple status update on the long-idled Best of Crete Facebook page.
Apparently, that was enough to grab people’s attention. Business has been booming ever since at the tiny corner store location in the middle of a residential neighborhood. Though there are a few seats for lunch customers, the restaurant offers only carry-out meals for dinner.
“Everybody and their brother came in,” he said. “It feels good to get the response that we have.
“I know it’s just a small little place but good things come from small packages,” he added.
Best of Crete has always been a family-run operation, with Birurakis’ mother, Joann, and father, Bill, helping out. Mike, a longtime Charleston resident, is a graduate of Stonewall Jackson High School (now a middle school), just a few blocks away from Best of Crete. He also played football for both West Virginia University and Marshall University.
The menu features the same popular items as before: gyros (regular, chicken and vegetarian), salads, meatball subs, hot ham and cheese sandwiches, pizza bread, stuffed grape leaf rolls, spinach pies, rice pilaf, hummus and pita, and baklava.
Because the Beech Avenue location has technically remained in business since it opened more than 17 years ago, he said he didn’t need to get any special approval or rezoning from the city.
For a short time, he ran the Beech Avenue shop and the mall location simultaneously. He said it was simply too much work.
“I had Sundays off, but I just slept,” he said.
Mike, 53, said he isn’t going back to the 70- to 80-hour workweeks he had at the mall. Hours will be 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Friday.
“If I go big, then I have to be open more hours,” he said.
“And I want to have a life.”
Reach Life editor Billy Wolfe at email@example.com or 304-348-4830.